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Video: Growing Watermelons In The Open Field In Warm Beds
180 kilos of excellent watermelons over the summer
When Galina Prokopyevna Romanova came to the editorial office for the first time, I was surprised by the very fact of the visit: she came from Kolpino to us only to find out if the editorial office would be interested in their family's experience in growing watermelons and melons near St. Petersburg, and to show photographs.
It turns out that she and her husband were hurt in our magazine by the publication of Svetlana Shlyakhtina from Yekaterinburg "And the Ural watermelons are still sweeter!" … Galina Prokopyevna excitedly said that the technology was very complicated there, it could be much simpler, without a greenhouse, as her husband, Boris Petrovich, had invented, and showed photographs in which weighty watermelons basked in the sun.
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To be honest, I was amazed by what I saw: this is not the Astrakhan region, how can you grow watermelons in the open ground in our latitude, and not one or two, but a whole plantation? Of course, I immediately asked them to tell as much as possible about this experience and take more photos.
Then there was a phone call, Galina Prokopyevna said that she had prepared the materials and was going to the editorial office with them again. A few days later, I met her at the checkpoint. In one hand she was holding a package in which two dark green watermelons protruded their round sides, and in the other was a basket, as it turned out later, with vegetables from their garden. "A present from her husband," she said, "try what grows on our land." They tried to dissuade, why, they say, was carrying a large load from such a given, but she stubbornly stated: you will not try it yourself, you will not believe that the watermelons are real.
Honestly, they are real. When we cut one watermelon, it even crunched, and the overripe pulp crumbled into sugary chunks. The second was the same. I confess that the first Astrakhan watermelon that I tasted in August was watery and much less sweet. All colleagues who came to see the northern miracle and treated themselves to it were also amazed at what they saw.
How did this miracle succeed in our far from hot climate and this capricious summer? Let the melon growers themselves tell about this.
How we grew watermelons
Our site is already 19 years old. It is located in the Kolpinsky district, near the village of Pontonny. The terrain there was swampy, mixed with birch forests, they drained the soil, uprooted stumps.
And then, like other gardeners, they were engaged in the cultivation of cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cabbage and other crops. We also have berry bushes, fruit trees, many flowers, in general, a complete set of summer cottages or vegetable gardens. We wanted to plant watermelons three years ago, we even bought a bag of seeds, but it didn't work out.
In the winter of 2005, the idea suddenly ripened to try to grow this sweet culture, but they decided to plant not only watermelons, but melons as well. To be honest, there was no knowledge of this culture. They only knew that watermelon is an annual plant of the Pumpkin family. In our country, watermelon is grown mainly in the Lower Volga region, in the North Caucasus. They knew that in the Leningrad region and in other regions of the North-West it is grown through seedlings, which are planted in a film greenhouse at the age of 20-30 days.
And so we bought three bags of seeds, selected early varieties. We took the varieties Ogonyok, Suga Baby and Marmeladny. And they started experimenting. The sachets marked the dates for planting seedlings from April 20 to May 5. We planted seeds for seedlings on April 14, as indicated in the lunar sowing calendar.
We planted two cups of each type, each of them had two watermelon seeds. There was no seed pretreatment. The seeds took a long time to sprout. The first ones ascended after 6 days, and the rest - after 10 days. They kept the cups by the battery in a box, they were covered with plastic wrap. Now we think they didn't have enough warmth to germinate faster.
They took ordinary soil for seedlings, for flowers (only you need to choose the best quality), added coconut substrate to it and filled ordinary 0.5 liter cups of sour cream. In those cups where two plants grew, we carefully divided them into two cups. On April 29th we had 12 cups of seedlings.
She was fed twice: once - with Ideal, twice - with Kemir's lux fertilizer. The seedlings made us happy: they grew strong and healthy. Only the weather outside the window did not please. The spring was very long and hard. It was time to plant seedlings, but the warmth did not come. The dates for planting seedlings were also marked on the seed packages May 25 - June 5.
Since we did not have manure this year, we made warm beds by stuffing a kind of hay mattress inside the beds. Two melon beds were made for watermelons. One turned out to be 190x280 cm in size, a box of planks was made, a layer of sawdust was laid on the sod, then a layer of rough earth, then a thick layer of hay and a layer of earth, broken together with sawdust, the height of the bed was about 40 cm.
The second one was 180x290 cm in size.The soil was chosen to clay: a layer of chips was laid, then there was rough earth, sawdust, earth, hay, again earth with a layer of about 40 cm.
And now the beds were ready, and the sun did not want to warm the earth. But suddenly it became warm on May 28, and on this most forbidden day according to the calendar, we planted watermelons in the beds. One of them contained seven plants, the other five.
This spring did not spoil us with warmth, and the beginning of June was cold, we had to build a frame over the beds and cover them with foil. It must be said that this year the land even in greenhouses has not warmed up over the spring. The planted seedlings of peppers and tomatoes were ill in the greenhouses, the foliage turned yellow. Watermelons and melons also succumbed to unfavorable weather and began to get sick. Healthy and strong seedlings after planting in the ground after a while began to decay and disappear. Watermelons were poured with fertilizer Kemir Lux, once they were sprinkled with Zircon.
Then the weather began to improve, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers became more cheerful, and watermelons began to improve. As the weather improved, the tops began to grow. In the afternoon, on the film frames, we began to open the ends. And from June 17 to June 25, they opened the beds completely, rolling the film up. At this time, the tops grew on watermelons especially intensively. The ridges are high, it was necessary to water them often.
From June 25, the heat came, the film was completely removed from the ridges, the expanse for watermelons began, the tops grew by leaps and bounds, watering was in a day. Top dressing alternated - "Ideal" then ash. The plantings were watered only with warm water. Watering time - in the morning from 10 to 12 o'clock, so that by the evening the tops and the earth are dry.
Double superphosphate was used three times instead of ash. In mid-August, film frames were again erected over the beds, and from August 20, on rainy days, they began to close the melon with watermelons from rains and at night, protecting it from temperature changes. During the day, both melons were fully open in August.
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The first melon with watermelons successfully entered the lunar cycle, and with the maximum growth of the tops of the watermelons began to bloom intensively. To attract bees, bumblebees and other insects that pollinate plants, we began to put bouquets of flowers in the melon.
We do not know if the flowers helped, but at the end of June watermelons began to be tied on the highest first melon, and there were quite a few of them, and by that time there were only three watermelons on the second melon. But soon the tops on the second melon began to catch up with the first in terms of growth intensity, only the massive ovary of watermelons on the second melon began quite late, after July 20 (as if it shifted to the lunar cycle).
Not a single watermelon plant was manually pollinated, the tops were not cut or formed, they grew freely as they wanted, the tops were even stretched out onto the paths. Planks were placed under each watermelon to protect it from rot. For the second melon, they worried that the watermelons would not ripen, and only a warm September allowed the experiment to be successful.
On the first melon, the earliest watermelon was removed on August 11, it was ripe, sweet, weighed 5.2 kg. We made a conclusion - it's time to stop watering. Since mid-August, they have not been watered even once. From 17 to 28 August, six more watermelons were removed, they were getting sweeter. On August 30, a large watermelon of the Suga Baby variety weighing 7 kilograms was removed. Warm autumn allowed to keep melon until September 19. The second melon was harvested on September 21.
If we summarize our experience, we can conclude that the basis of growing watermelons in a garden bed is high ridges, watering with warm water. Sawdust must be added to the top layer of the soil so that a soil crust does not form.
When growing this culture, it is of great importance to create a healthy lifestyle for plants according to the principle: "Feet warm, head cold", daily care and airing are also necessary. General note on the cultivation of watermelons: this is a freedom-loving culture, they cannot be tamed, subordinated to the will of a person, like other cultures, they can either be helped or harmed. And in order to get big yields, this must be taken into account. Melon is a more plastic crop, when cultivated using the methods developed for pumpkins and cucumbers, and got pretty good results both in the greenhouse and in the garden bed in the open field.
Now we can already say that we made mistakes: the bed for watermelons should be high and warm enough by the time the seedlings are planted. In previous years, when growing pumpkins and cucumbers in the open field, we used heating the beds, for this we laid hay and manure, poured boiling water with potassium permanganate, quickly threw fertile soil on this layer and covered it with foil.
And then the sun did the job of warming up the soil. At the end of May, the soil was hot before planting, and the seedlings took root in such soil very quickly. And this year we could not provide such heating of the earth, and the experiment with watermelons was in jeopardy. But then we got together and decided not to make more gross mistakes, tried to take good care of the plantings, and therefore something worked out.
On two small melons with a total area of just over ten square meters, we have grown and filmed 56 delicious ripe watermelons with a total weight of 180 kilograms! Here is our arithmetic of the harvest: only 30 watermelons were removed from the first melon - 12 from August to September and 18 on the day of the mass harvest. Their weight was 8; 7; 4.8; 4.5; 4.5; 4.2; 3.2; 3.0; 2.8; 2.5 kilograms, two were 2.2 kilograms, and three more were 2 kilograms. The smallest weighed 1.7 and 1.5 kilograms.
From the second melon on September 21, we removed 26 watermelons with a total weight of 88.5 kg. Their weight was: 6 kilograms - 2 watermelons, three more were 5 kilograms, then 4.7 kg, 4.5 kg, five watermelons of 4 kg, and another 14 were weighing from 3.5 to 1.5 kilograms.
We will take into account all our mistakes, study all the literature available to us on this issue and in the next season, if we have enough strength, we will try again to do this interesting and rewarding culture. Growing a decent harvest of any culture requires a lot of mental stress, and by the end of the season you feel like a squeezed lemon, but in return you get the necessary joy that pushes you to go further and further.
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